‘The Cats will be back’ - fans react to camogie final

Streets of the north inner city bustle with young girls and boys

All-Ireland Senior Camogie Championship Final, Croke Park, Dublin. Photograph: Inpho/Bryan Keane

All-Ireland Senior Camogie Championship Final, Croke Park, Dublin. Photograph: Inpho/Bryan Keane

 

In the build-up to Sunday’s senior camogie final, the streets of the north inner city were bustling with young girls and boys donning face-paint and brightly coloured ponchos.

Coaches carrying various underage camogie teams from throughout the country parked up on Mountjoy Square while street traders shouted “blow horns and the headbands”. One such trader on the North Circular Road said to another “just two more matches after this and a break” referencing the men’s and ladies’ football finals later this month.

For a moment, it looked like the street traders might have to work an extra date, with the final between Cork and Kilkenny tied at nine points each after the sixth minute of stoppage time.

However, the Rebels’s Julia White grabbed the winning point, denying Kilkenny back-to-back All-Ireland titles.

Travelling all the way down from west Belfast for the game was the McCourt family, who were there to cheer on Kilkenny, despite no connections to the county.

“Róise (9) had a trip down with her club O’Donovan Rossa on Easter Monday, they were down to play at Croke Park. They gave out codes and she won the tickets,” said Noeleen McCourt.

“She had a Kilkenny jersey at home so we stuck it on her and we’re rooting for Kilkenny today. They’ve [Roise & her sister Cliódhna (5)] never been to a big game like this big before so it’s a great occasion for them, they both play camogie.”

“You can definitely see a big difference in the atmosphere compared to the men’s football or hurling,” said Mark McCourt. “There’s a lot more kids at this which is lovely to see, it’s much more of a family day out.”

Amongst the 20,438 attendance was under 12’s coach with Kilworth camogie club in Cork, Michael O’Riordan who travelled to the city centre with two busloads of players, parents and coaches.

“There’s 104 of us in total, 34 adults and 72 kids,” said Mr O’Riordan. “They’re all so excited. We’re a club that’s only two years old. It was only going to be an adult’s club but we sort of all got together to get a juvenile club started.

“Last year our membership was 116 from under 8 to under 16 and this year it’s gone up. So the demand is there. A lot of the lads from the men’s club have given a hand as some of the female coaches would have never played but were keen to get involved with their kids.”

Despite the heavy rain that poured down as the players lined out at 4pm, it didn’t stop the young crowd’s screams and shouts, kept warm by cups of hot chocolate purchased before throw-in.

Brid O’Neill, originally from Kilkenny city, but living in Greystones said “I go to a few matches”. “I was in Thurles yesterday for the U21’s. I didn’t go to as many as I normally would as Kilkenny hasn’t done as well as other years,” she said.

“We’re hoping for the best, we wouldn’t be super confident though.”

As it turned out, it wasn’t to be Kilkenny’s day. As the final whistle blew just after 5.30pm at Croke Park, the sun had broken through the clouds with a temporary stop to the rain.

“Don’t worry, the Cats will be back,” said one middle-aged man to a group of young girls. Indeed they will.